Green Guilt

We all suffer from it to one degree or another. There are even entire blogs dedicated to the topic. It is hard to avoid when the messages surrounding us day in and day out have become so focused on the health of our planet and the harm we are incurring with our modern day lifestyles. The seed gets planted in our thoughts, our eyes are opened to our many flaws and the guilt grows.

We try to change; some with scattered, haphazard acts of earth friendliness, others with a sudden passionate flurry of dedication that soon exhausts itself leaving an opening for old, easy habits to return.

While most of us will readily agree that ‘something needs to be done’, it is hard to change the way you have always done things, and let’s face it, sometimes its downright uncomfortable and time consuming. Some of us don’t want to use our Green Bins in the summer because we are horrified at the very thought of maggots; we buy products that we know are packed full of chemicals, or unsustainably manufactured because for the life of us we can’t imagine what we would replace them with.

But every once in awhile, when the stars align just so, we do ourselves proud. We find ourselves standing in the produce aisle staring at tomatoes and realise that one flat came from the other side of the continent and another flat came from just down the road. We think “Okay, this is a no brainer. Far better to buy local!” and before we know it we have made a conscious choice to do better. And maybe even realised that doing better isn’t so hard.

Slowly, being conscientious about the things we buy and the things we use becomes the new habit. Not a drastic reinvention of our entire life, but little changes every time we notice an opportunity to make a better choice. We could still allow ourselves to be consumed with guilt (if buying local means buying hydroponic, is that the best choice? Or is it an irresponsible use of our earth’s limited supply of fresh water??), but if we are wise we will recognize that productive guilt is only a warning light, that we should take a moment to analyze our decision and decide if it was the best we could do at the time. If the answer is no, then we have before us an opportunity to grow and learn.

And so, day by day, little by little, we choose to do our best. Which is not a bad idea in general, and may even be the secret to a happy and peaceful life.

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